Human Key - right2rentThe government has announced today that from 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property. This is a further roll-out of the Right to Rent scheme introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, the first phase of which has been piloted in the West Midlands since December 2014. The Home Office have now published their review of the pilot and this can be seen here.

Under Right to Rent, landlords must check identity documents for all new tenants (with some exceptions) including lodgers, take copies and store them for future reference. The Home Office claim that “the scheme has been designed to make it straightforward for people to give evidence of their right to rent and a range of commonly used documents can be used”. Others argue that the range of documents which can be used, alongside their lack of experience in this field, make this a far from straightforward process.

What is certain though, is that the penalties for not complying with these rules can be tough. Currently civil fines up to £3,000 per tenant are in place and the Immigration Bill 2015-2016, which is currently before Parliament, proposes criminal sanctions including prison for those who breach the rules.

Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire claims:

The government’s new Immigration Bill builds on the reforms in last year’s Act, making it harder for people to live and work in the UK illegally. The Bill proposes new measures to make it easier for landlords to evict illegal tenants as well as a new criminal offence targeted at unscrupulous landlords who repeatedly fail to carry out right to rent checks.”

In response Mark Lilley-Tams, an immigration law solicitor at Paragon Law, said:Mark Lilley-Tams

“Evidencing the right to be in the UK is a difficult process given the wide array of different documents available to prove this and landlords are generally not experts on immigration law. Delays in proving the right to rent can be expensive and time consuming for landlords and that is before you factor in the risk of civil fines, imprisonment and even uncapped discrimination claims if they make a mistake or fail to correctly store the documents they rely upon.

To assist landlords and letting agents we have introduced our Right2Rent service which allows us to take on legal responsibility for carrying out these checks and storing documentation. The feedback we have from the pilot area is that landlords really do not feel comfortable with this added responsibility of carrying out immigration checks and the threat of criminal sanctions will not make this burden any easier.”

The Right to Rent scheme was given legal status by the Immigration Act 2014. Some of the additional powers required to toughen up the government’s approach to enforcement of the scheme are within the Immigration Bill which is currently being debated in Parliament. The progress of this bill can be viewed here.

Further information on Paragon Law’s Right2Rent scheme can be seen at www.right2rent.co.uk

Discrimination

 

 

 

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has conducted an independent evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme and has uncovered a number of negative impacts on tenants and landlords as a direct result of the scheme. These include:

 

  • There is evidence that landlords are prepared to discriminate against those with complicated immigration status and those who cannot provide documentation immediately.
  • Many landlords have found the checks confusing and have therefore undertaken them incorrectly.
  • The ‘Code of Practice for Landlords’ and the ‘Code of Practice on Avoiding Discrimination’ are difficult for landlords and agents to understand.

Although these rules are complicated and the risks to landlords are very real, there is help available. Paragon Law’s service for landlords and tenants, known as Right2Rent, can help landlords to navigate through the myriad of Rules and Regulations which are causing such confusion and leading to fines, the risk of imprisonment and discrimination claims. To find out more about the services we can offer landlords and tenants please see the link below.

 

Right2Rent Services for Landlords

Right2rent Services for Tenants

 

or email enquiries@right2rent.co.uk

 

To see the full JCWI report please click here.

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New Government proposals announced on the 02 August 2015 include imprisonment of Landlords for a period of up to 5 years, where they repeatedly fail to comply with the new ‘right to rent’ scheme.

Associate Solicitor, Mark Lilley-Tams, explains in greater detail the proposed changes and how Right2Rent can assist tenants, landlords and letting agents to avoid the pitfalls of these new requirements.

Please visit http://www.right2rent.co.uk/landlords-face-imprisonment-if-new-right-to-rent-rules-not-followed/ to find out more or email markl@paragonlaw.co.uk